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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:OMAX Corporation
  • Peter H Liu
  • (253) 872-2300
Award Date:10/22/2009
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ NaN
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 169,774
  • FY 2010=$169,774
Start Date:01/01/2010
End Date:12/31/2010
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:SBIR Phase I: Development of Subminiature Abrasive-Waterjet Nozzles toward Micromachining
Federal Award ID Number:0944239
DUNS ID:849180518
Parent DUNS ID:056329527
Program:SBIR Phase I

Awardee Location

Street:21409-72ND Ave S
Awardee Cong. District:09

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:OMAX Corporation
Street:21409-72ND Ave S
Cong. District:09

Abstract at Time of Award

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I seeks to develop a micro-abrasive-waterjet nozzle for machining features between 50 to 100 micrometers. The project is extremely challenging because abrasive waterjet (AWJ) machining involves an ultrahigh-speed, 3-phase flow engaging in complex solid/fluid interactions within very small dimensions that are changing rapidly. The project is aiming to minimize the beam diameters of abrasive waterjets, reshape and refocus the jet stream exiting the nozzle, improve flow characteristics of fine abrasives, and mitigate abrasive clogging. The micro-abrasive-waterjet nozzle with a single-feed port will become the most compact size of its kind by eliminating the vacuum assist and water flushing requirements needed to prevent abrasive clogging. The recent advent of micro-nano, green energy, and biomedical technologies has created tremendous opportunities for low-cost micromanufacturing. The micro-abrasive-waterjet will take advantage of the inherent merits of waterjet technology -- versatility (material independence), cold cutting (preservation of material integrity), cost effectiveness, and fast turnaround -- that are unmatchable by most established tools. The final goal is to further downsize abrasive waterjet nozzles toward micromachining, meet the high demand for low-cost micromanufacturing and further boost the market share of waterjet machine tools. The broader/commercial impact of waterjet micromachining will be machining fits well within the 'just-in-time' practice of lean manufacturing; using waterjet machining, small and large parts/lots made from most materials can be completed from design to finish in hours -- something that is not possible through outsourcing them abroad. This project's development of waterjet micromachining will promote waterjet technology for high value-added jobs and further sustain its phenomenal growth. Inserting additional waterjet systems into the manufacturer arena would not only raise the awareness of this technology but also help save jobs from being outsourced overseas. This could have an important society impact through planting the seeds needed to help rebuild a sustainable U.S. manufacturing industry, leading to reversing the three-decade long trend of the continued shrinkage of domestic manufacturing workforce, and revitalizing the once prosperous manufacturing business toward a recovery of America's economy.

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

December 30, 2010

(Peter) H.-T. Liu And Ernst Schubert

OMAX Corporation

21409 72nd Avenue South

Kent, WA 98032


The SBIR Phase I feasibility of developing micro abrasive-waterjet (uAWJ) nozzles capable of machining features between 50 to 100 microns has been demonstrated (1, 2, 3).[1]During the Phase I R&D, experimental nozzles that are smaller than OMAX’s smallest production nozzle were assembled and tested. A set of miniature parts made of varous materials and machined with the experimental nozzles were shown to prospective collaborators and customers and had received rave reviews from them. There was considerable interest in what we had achieved in Phase I and would be accomplished in Phase II. Several companies and research institutes sent us samples of various materials and part drawings to be test cut with the experimental nozzles for comparing the cost and performance versus those of established machine tools. For example, the PI has entered into collaboration with MIT’s Precision Engineering Research Group (PERG - exploring mAWJ technology for machining micro-meso components used in green energy production and novel medical devices (4). Such a collaboration could potentially lead to additional R&D funding that is eligible for NSF’s Phase IIB matching. One of our customers, Holly Yashi (, who has been using our production nozzles in a dual-nozzle configuration for jewelry making, was particularly interested in these experimental nozzles. Their management realized the potential benefits by upgrading their OMAX system with these nozzles. They would not only enable them to fabricate very fine features and intricate patterns cost effectively but also reduce the kerf width of the  cut and therefore reduce the waste of precious materials used in jewelry making. Furthermore, downsizing of the nozzle would allow more nozzles operating in tandem using the existing high-pressure pump and directly increase the productivity.  Holly Yashi served as a third party contributor so that OMAX could apply for the Phase IB supplement. As a part of Phase IB, OMAX designed, assembled, tested, delivered, and installed a state-of-the-art AWJ cutting platform capable of accommodating four (4) beta miniature nozzles operating in tandem. This customized system that included all the necessary components for production operation would readily double Holly Yashi’s current production rate. The system was subsequently intalled at Holly Yashi in December 2010. 

During Phase IB, OMAX continued refining the experimental nozzles to optimize their performance. Third party suppliers of processed abrasives for uAWJ nozzles were identified. Furthermore, OMAX received for 2011 an in-kind-contribution ($6000 value) from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (P...

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